Mr Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror, November 17, 2005 edition, p. A11.

According to Toting Bunye, Mrs. Gloria Arroyo was in San Juan, Batangas for the “symbolic inauguration of an electric power substation and eight bridges.” I don’t get it.

What is a symbolic inauguration? It sounds to me like a campaign promise or a post-dated check from the President’s Social Fund. In her keynote speech to the Batangueños, Mrs. Arroyo said that she had asked Congress to “enact a reasonable minimum wage law…to ease the pressure on our workers.” I don’t get this one either.

Raise taxes and then raise wages to offset higher prices that come with higher taxes and higher wages. Is it just me, or do you also feel the train is not moving and won’t be leaving the station any time soon?

Mrs. Arroyo added, in the vernacular, according to Bunye, “The country is now reaping the gains of fiscal stability…the peso has climbed to a five-month high of P54.80 against the US dollar compared to last month’s P56.20…the government realized a P37 billion savings in debt servicing,” I’ll never understand why she said this outside Ayala

Over at Ayala Avenue, a strong peso is good news. However, in front of an audience you have to address in the vernacular, the same piece of news might have a different effect.

To a Pinoy who is somewhat or totally dependent on dollar remittances from at least one of more than 8 million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who send home more than $10 billion a year, what Mrs. Arroyo said would sound like: “Noong nakaraang buwan, iyan dollar sa bulsa ninyo ay P56.20 ang halaga. Ngayon, iyan parehong dollar na padala ng mga kamaganak ninyo na OFW ay nagkakahalagang P54.80 na lang. Dapat lang matuwa kayo kasi nabawasan naman ng P37 billion yung babayaran ko na inutang ko sa pangalan ninyo.” (Last month the dollar in your pocket was worth P56.20. Now it is worth P54.80. You should be happy because now I will be paying P37 billion less for the debts I incurred in your name.) Yes?

A strong peso means different things to different folks. It could mean spending less to support an exiled family member, or it could mean saving taxpayer’s money to send a cabinet member to Greece so he can read Greek classics in the original. Of course, it would mean even greater savings if the same cabinet member were to go to a less expensive country like India. Over there, one can read Hare Krishna in the original. Who knows, the cabinet member might even revert to wearing robes whose colors will match what his patron will soon be wearing—at the Women’s Correctional in Mandaluyong.

And since we’re in the neighborhood, Secretary Eduardo Ermita’s reaction to the latest coup revelation by Miriam Santiago looks mean in print. The Inquirer transcribed Ermita’s comments as, “We have been hearing rumors of a coup every month since April and every time it always ends up as another cuckoo-roo coup.”

Did Ermita say cuckoo or coup-coup? I thought he said the latter, but the Inquirer ended its account with, “Yesterday afternoon, Santiago flew to Hongkong.” So now I am really confused. Was the Inquirer saying she flew the coup or flew over the cuckoo’s nest?

Anyway, who was Miriam’s coup-coup plotter?

She said, “We know who they are from the frequency of their appearances in the media. Even if they pretend to be President Arroyo’s friends, there is no reason for them to court publicity, unless they are preparing the public mind for an eventual takeover.”

Well, we all know that Ping Lacson has never pretended to be a friend of Mrs. Arroyo and besides, he has been bumped off the front pages by Mrs. Arroyo’s lifesaver. So, to all those who think Miriam was referring to Ping, all I can say is: “Close, but Ping no have cigar.” And we no have Garci.